“I have my own style.”This is what salespeople say when they don’t want to follow a sales process or they’re uncomfortable asking for the commitments they need.It’s true that salespeople can have different approaches. We all have different personalities and we might make different language choices. But there isn’t a style that allows you to avoid following an effective sales process or to win without asking for the commitments you need.Style vs. ProcessThere isn’t a style that allows you to violate the iron laws of selling. There isn’t a style that suggests that you don’t need to qualify your targets, spend time doing discovery work, building consensus around your solution, or anything else that might be codified in your sales process.We sometimes don’t think we need to do things, and sometimes we do have to operate outside the boundaries of our process. But these aren’t style decisions. These are decisions that thoughtful salespeople and sales managers make when they know the rules. Because they know the rules, they can make thoughtful decisions about when and how to break them.There isn’t an effective sales process called “winging it.” That’s not a style; it’s a mistake.Point: Sales ProcessCommitment Gaining vs. ProcessYou know there is no such thing as a style that allows you to avoid asking for the commitments you need. You might be uncomfortable asking for those commitments, and it’s quite possible you might not have done the value creating necessary to deserve those commitments, but it’s not a style.Selling effectively is in part moving from commitment to commitment. Missing commitments is how you end up with a pipeline full of stalled opportunities. You have your own personality. You use your own language. But avoiding commitment gaining isn’t a style.There is no style of selling that allows you to succeed without asking for and gaining commitments. That’s a lack of confidence that’s most likely due to a lack of value creation. When you create a lot of value, you feel like you deserve commitments—because you do.Point: Commitment GainingYour style may be amped up and passionate. It might be low key. It might be ultra-professional and consultative. But it isn’t winging it and it isn’t avoiding asking for commitments.QuestionsWhat are you referring to when you talk about your sales style?Is the root of your style really the avoidance of something crucial to successful selling?Why do some salespeople avoid following an effective sales process? How does this harm their results?What commitments do some salespeople struggle to ask for and obtain commitments? Essential Reading! Get my 3rd book: Eat Their Lunch “The first ever playbook for B2B salespeople on how to win clients and customers who are already being serviced by your competition.” Buy Now
Essential Reading! Get my 2nd book: The Lost Art of Closing “In The Lost Art of Closing, Anthony proves that the final commitment can actually be one of the easiest parts of the sales process—if you’ve set it up properly with other commitments that have to happen long before the close. The key is to lead customers through a series of necessary steps designed to prevent a purchase stall.” Buy Now In every stalled or lost deal there is a person (or persons) who opposed (or didn’t support) the salesperson and their sales organization. There is someone who wouldn’t engage with the salesperson or who wasn’t convinced of the value that they could create. Someone opposed this salesperson’s efforts because they supported the status quo or a competitor. There is someone who said “no” to some necessary commitment. And if the deal was lost, someone said “yes” to another salesperson.In every advancing or won deal there is a person (or persons) who supported the salesperson and their sales organization. The were people within the company who engaged with the salesperson, and there are people who perceived the value of what that salesperson sells. This person preferred the salesperson, the sales organization, and their solution over their competitors. This person said “yes” to the commitments to move forward and, if the deal was won, they said “yes” to giving the salesperson their business.Companies don’t buy what you sell. The people within those companies buy what you sell (or don’t buy what you sell, as the case may be).All things being equal, relationships win. All things being unequal, relationships still probably win. Your job in sales is to make all things unequal by developing relationships of value. Your relationships are with the people within the four walls of your dream client company.
Hustlers do what others won’t. It’s not that others can’t do what the hustler does; they just don’t.Don’t avoid hard work. Hustlers don’t avoid hard work. They embrace it. The hustler knows that they have to pay in advance for what they want, and the more difficult the work, the greater payment they are making. You’ve heard that the difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is that successful people do what unsuccessful people won’t? Hustlers know it’s true and act so.Don’t avoid making sacrifices. A hustler sacrifices security for freedom. She sacrifices higher salary now for financial independence later. The hustler sacrifices time hanging out with friends, time watching the best sporting events, and time watching the best television shows. They sacrifice being home early, and staying in bed an extra 9 minutes (or 27 minutes).Don’t avoid disappointing some people. Hustlers say no. They refuse very nice offers from very nice people. They know that they can acquire new opportunities in the future, but they can’t acquire more time. Saying no means disappointing some people sometimes. It never feels good to say no. But the hustler knows that saying no to small things is what allows them to make room to say yes to their goals, dreams, and ambitions.Don’t avoid conflict. If you are going to do big things, you are going to have deal with conflict. There are people who aren’t going to like what you do. Hustlers know that they are going be challenged. There are going to be personal conflicts. There may also be conflicts with financial people, clients, and competitors. It comes with the territory. So hustlers wade into the fray, taking care of business.Don’t avoid selling. The hustler knows she has to sell herself. She knows she has to sell her vision. She has to sell her ideas. If the creates an offering, no one sells it harder of more successfully than the hustler. There is no hustler that isn’t also a salesperson. The hustler doesn’t avoid selling.What is it that you are avoiding? Essential Reading! Get my first book: The Only Sale Guide You’ll Ever Need “The USA Today bestseller by the star sales speaker and author of The Sales Blog that reveals how all salespeople can attain huge sales success through strategies backed by extensive research and experience.” Buy Now
Essential Reading! Get my 3rd book: Eat Their Lunch “The first ever playbook for B2B salespeople on how to win clients and customers who are already being serviced by your competition.” Buy Now A young entrepreneur asked me what I thought about the idea that you should fire the bottom 10 percent of employees each year. You should not fire the bottom 10 percent of employees in your ranking each year.If an employee is in the bottom 10 percent in employee rankings at the end of the year, something should have been done long before that time.These is no reason to allow an employee to struggle until you notice it’s the start of another trip around the sun. It’s unfair to the employee to allow them to struggle or fail for a long period of time without intervening. There is no reason to be unhappy with an employee’s performance for long periods of time. You also shouldn’t let them be unhappy with their performance, nor should you allow them to believe they are doing okay when they aren’t.Your intervention needs to start as soon as you notice an employee is struggling.Hanging onto employees that aren’t succeeding is expensive.If an employee is not producing the outcomes they were hired to deliver, you are going without those outcomes. In sales, this means you aren’t winning the new opportunities you need to grow. In operational roles, it means you are failing your clients—and likely failing the rest of your team. You are failing, because you are allowing a struggling employee to fail.There is no reason to forego the outcomes you need while waiting for an artificial date. Time is the one resource you can never get more of, and when it’s gone, it’s gone. You have to produce results you need now.You need to help your employee improve, or you need to do something else.If the bottom 10 percent aren’t performing, there are three choices available to you, two of them that don’t require firing them.You can retrain employees. You can work with them to give them every opportunity to succeed. This includes coaching them and engaging with them at a deeper level and more frequently. If you haven’t done everything you can to help a struggling employee to succeed, it is unfair to fire them.You can reassign employees by moving them into roles where they are likely to have a better opportunity to succeed. There are a lot of people who want to work in sales because the want the autonomy and the income who don’t do well for any number of reasons. These same people often do well in other roles, roles that don’t require the same mindsets or skills as sales.Replacing an employee is expensive. Replacing them may not have been necessary if someone intervened early enough to help a struggling do better. You should never be clinical or casual about firing a person, and you should do everything in your power to keep from having to do so.You are being watched. If you fire people without making an effort to help them, you are sending a message to the rest of your employees that you care only about the outcomes you need and that they are simply a means to an end.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday paid obeisance at the shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti here and offered a chadar (shawl) at the grave of the 12th century Sufi saint.Ms. Hasina was accompanied by five Bangladesh Ministers in the 26-member delegation. She was received by the officials of the dargah’s Anjuman Committee (management committee). She offered prayers for 15 minutes at the shrine and stayed there for about an hour. Ms. Hasina offered namaz near Jannati Gate and also recited a fatiha (prayer) for the Sufi saint.Welcome addressKhadim Kalimuddeen Chisti gave “tabarrukh” and a scarf to the Bangladesh PM. The Anjuman committee gave a welcome address in her honour. She made a brief halt at the Circuit House, had tea and flew out of the city by noon. Among those who accompanied Ms. Hasina were Minister for Liberation War Affairs A.K.M. Mozammel Haque, Minister of Water Resources Anisul Islam Mahmud and Minister of Law Anisul Haq. She had earlier visited the shrine on January 13, 2010 with her family.
In a marked shift in its electoral strategy post the drubbing in the Assembly elections, the Bahujan Samaj Party has decided to contest the upcoming urban body polls in Uttar Pradesh on the party symbol.The BSP would be fighting urban body polls with a symbol after a gap of over two decades.Party chief Mayawati announced the decision during a closed-door meeting of State officer-bearers in Lucknow on Wednesday. Notifications for municipal corporation elections are expected to be issued by end of May.The BSP movement is at a “crossroads” and to tackle the “challenges” facing it, “a new strategy” and “energy” is required, the party quoted Ms. Mayawati saying in a statement. “There is a need to work at all levels with a missionary zeal,” she said.Sources said the party decided to contest upcoming local elections with a symbol with an aim to register its presence in those areas, mobilise its cadre and prevent further loss of vote share. Fighting with a symbol is also expected to ensure that the party cadre devote their energy behind a single candidate.“When the party fought without symbols, many members would stand against each other. There would be problems of indiscipline, sending a mixed signal to voters. The party feels that if it does not contest the election, after a big loss, it would become difficult to bring back those voters,” a senior BSP leader told The Hindu.Ms. Mayawati said that though the party’s base in urban areas was relatively weaker (than rural areas) it decided to fight on a symbol considering the improvement in the BSP’s support base in urban areas in the last election. “The party will fight with the support of sarv samaj and try to give better results,” she said.The BSP has been fighting local elections without issuing a symbol for over decades. A senior leader said the party had refrained from distributing tickets as it had to deal with multiple contenders and feared that favouring one would alienate the others. Asked why a similar scramble for ticket would not arise in the party now, the senior leader said that since the decision had been formally announced, there would be no such issues this time.The party will also for the first time form city-level committees. Since polls are near, the target is to complete them within 15 days.During the meeting, Ms. Mayawati also told her party members that a decision to form an alliance with other anti-BJP parties would be taken closer to the 2019 Lok Sabha election after “considering the political situation prevailing then.” For now, the instruction to members is to increase the mass base of the party, a source said.If and with which party the BSP aligns with in 2019, will be determined by the “support base of that party,” the source added, quoting Ms. Mayawati.The BSP chief also recalled how in the past the party had not gained much from alliances. While its vote bank transferred to the other party with all “honesty,” the votes of its allies did not transfer to it, she explained in the meeting, which was attended by BSP candidates, district and vidhan sabha heads, and zonal coordinators.
Seeking justice for lakhs of farmers in Rajasthan, the Congress on Tuesday launched a “Kisan Nyaya Padyatra” from the Krishi Upaj Mandi in Baran demanding a blanket crop loan waiver.The march will traverse about 100 km in south-eastern Rajasthan and culminate in Jhalawar, Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje’s home turf.Thousands of farmers, who attended the rally in Baran, declared that the “package” announced by the government following the farmers’ recent agitation in Sikar was not acceptable to them. The State government has only appointed a committee to see if it can grant a waiver of loans up to ₹50,000.Pradesh Congress president Sachin Pilot will lead the padyatra in the Hadoti region in the next three days. AICC secretary Tarun Kumar and Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly Rameshwar Dudi would be accompanying him. Other State leaders and AICC functionaries will join at various points on the way.Addressing the rally, Mr. Pilot said though the Hadoti region had reported the highest number of suicides by farmers, no government representative had met their families or provided any relief. “Only yesterday, a debt-ridden farmer in Bundi district killed himself after his paddy crop was destroyed. This shows that the peasants have no faith in the government’s committee.”Mr. Pilot said no other State government had formed such a committee. Moreover, not a single representative of farmers had found a place in the panel.“Our struggle will continue until a complete farm loan waiver is announced. We will not let the [ruling] BJP to postpone the waiver announcement till the Assembly elections, because that will amount to reaping political advantage of the issue. Farmers are dying because of the government’s insensitivity,” he said.Mr Pilot added that other demands included fixing of MSP at levels 50% more than the weighted average cost of production, payment of bonus for all agricultural produce and bringing all crops within ambit of MSP. “It is most unfortunate that the BJP government has reduced subsidy on agricultural equipment, while the input costs have increased because of GST.”The Congress’s mass contact programme for four days in the Hadoti region, considered a stronghold of BJP, assumes significance in the wake of success of the farmers’ agitation in Sikar being attributed to the CPI(M)-led All India Kisan Sabha.
A total of 320 nominations from different political parties and Independent candidates have been filed for the February 18 Assembly elections in Tripura, official sources said on Friday. Of them, the nominations of 307 candidates were found valid after a scrutiny held on Thursday, the sources said. “Thirteen nominations were rejected of which five were dummy candidates of the BJP and the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura and one of the Trinamool Congress. The rest were from Independent candidates,” Additional Chief Electoral Officer Debasish Modak said. Another Additional CEO Tapas Ray said the first phase of mock poll training for the officials engaged in election works was completed in five districts out of the total eight and the training for the rest three districts would be held soon. The dates are yet to be finalised, he said. Besides, trainings for police officials, expenditure monitoring and IT applications are on, he said.
Army jawan Pankaj and his friend Manish were arrested by the Special Investigation Team on Sunday in connection with the gang-rape of a teenager in Haryana’s Rewari earlier this month. The two were on the run since September 12.Prime accused Nishu, quack Sanjeev and tube-well room owner Deen Dayal have already been arrested in the case. While Nishu is on police remand till September 25, Sanjeev and Deen Dayal have been remanded to judicial custody till October 5. All the five accused identified in the case so far, have now been accounted for with the arrest of the duo.Superintendent of Police, Nazneen Bhasin, the SIT head, said Pankaj, Manish and Nishu, were involved in several cases of organised gang-rape earlier as well, besides the recent case of the Rewari teenager, but not a single victim could be “positively” identified so far. She said the victims were probably lured from outside the village. She made an appeal to the victims to come forward with the information and assured action on any complaint received by the SIT. She said that Deen Dayal knew for “long” that the place was being used for commission of crime by the accused.Ms. Bhasin said Pankaj and Manish were nabbed outside a “dhaba” in Mahendergarh’s Satnali around 5 a.m. based on technical surveillance following an input. She said the duo took shelter at “dharamshalas”, stayed in houses on the outskirts of the villages and slept in the open fields and on the mountains while being on the run. The duo also went to Bikaner and Ranthambore in Rajasthan and mostly took shelters at Haryana-Rajasthan border areas, added the police officer.“The two buried their phones. They did not have enough cash and took help from the petty criminals,” said Ms. Bhasin. She, however, refused to share the details of recoveries made from the two saying that it was “important to maintain the integrity of the investigation”.She said that more arrests could not be ruled out in the case and roles of more people were being looked into. “It was an organised gang-rape. The investigation is still at a crucial stage. There could be more revelations in the next 24 hours,” said Ms. Bhasin. She added that the investigation in the case was carried out in the shortest “humanly” possible time as the police needed to process every data and follow up every input.Nishu along with Pankaj and Manish had allegedly abducted, drugged and gang-raped the victim on September 12 when she was on her way to coaching classes at Mahendergarh’s Kanina.The victim’s family had alleged that the Rewari Police delayed the transfer of zero First Information Report to their Mahendergarh counterparts allowing the accused ample time to flee. Superintendent of Police, Rewari, Rajesh Dhuggal, was then transferred and women Sub-Inspector Heeramani at Rewari’s Women Police Stationput under suspension for dereliction of duty.
The Child Welfare Committee of Odisha’s Koraput district had to take possession of motherless newborn twin girls on Wednesday after their father and grandparents shrugged off any their responsibility towards them.According to District Child Protection Officer of Koraput, Rajashree Das, the twins were handed over to Missionaries of Charity centre in Koraput town for care and safekeeping.“We will again try to contact and counsel the father and grandparents to accept them. If they do not agree, then they will be asked to officially surrender the girls to the CWC,” said Ms. Das.The DCPO felt poverty and lack of capacity to look after the newborns may be the reason behind the father and grandparents deserting the girls. Parents of the newborns were poor residents of Karibeda village. On November 23, their mother had travelled in an auto-rickshaw to Pottangi for delivery. But she died on the way after delivering twins. The newborns were shifted to a hospital in Koraput, but their father and grandparents deserted them. After the condition of the girls improved, the hospital decided to discharge them.
A teenage girl was allegedly gang-raped by six youths after tying her father to a tree nearby in Kishanganj district of Bihar.The girl, in a complaint filed on Wednesday, said six youths of her village Pathargatti, under the Kodhobari police station, 350 km from Patna, knocked on her door on Monday night asking for water. They then forcibly entered the house and dragged her outside. They took her to a deserted field near her house and gang-raped her in front of her father, she said in her complaint. The victim told the police that the accused warned them not to report the incident. Arrests soon, says SP“She has named six persons… the police are conducting raids to nab them as they are absconding,” Kishanganj Superintendent of Police Kumar Ashish told local journalists. He said he was personally monitoring the case and “all the accused will be arrested soon.” Police said the villagers initially tried to hush-up the incident. They asked the girl and her father to agree to a “settlement” through the village panchayat. But the two decided to lodge an FIR. Police records say 1400 cases of rape were registered in Bihar till November last year, 39 in Kishanganj district alone.
Ten pilgrims were killed and 13 injured when the jeep they were travelling in dashed into a tree here on Thursday, police said. The deceased included two children and three women, they said. The pilgrims were returning to their homes from a shrine in Himachal Pradesh when the accident occurred near Dhobi Ghat here. Police said as per preliminary investigations, cause of the accident appears to be driver losing control over the vehicle after which it hit the tree. The injured, who belonged to a village in Dasuya sub-division here, were hospitalised. Chief Minister Amarinder Singh expressed deep shock and grief over the accident.He announced an ex-gratia of ₹1 lakh each to the next of the kin of the deceased.
When you hear a friend’s voice, you immediately picture her, even if you can’t see her. And from the tone of her speech, you quickly gauge if she’s happy or sad. You can do all of this because your human brain has a “voice area.” Now, scientists using brain scanners and a crew of eager dogs have discovered that dog brains, too, have dedicated voice areas. The finding helps explain how canines can be so attuned to their owners’ feelings.“It’s absolutely brilliant, groundbreaking research,” says Pascal Belin, a neuroscientist at the University of Glasgow in the United Kingdom, who was part of the team that identified the voice areas in the human brain in 2000. “They’ve made the first comparative study using nonhuman primates of the cerebral processing of voices, and they’ve done it with a noninvasive technique by training dogs to lie in a scanner.”The scientists behind the discovery had previously shown that humans can readily distinguish between dogs’ happy and sad barks. “Dogs and humans share a similar social environment,” says Attila Andics, a neuroscientist in a research group at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest and the lead author of the new study. “So we wondered if dogs also get some social information from human voices.”Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)To find out, Andics and his colleagues decided to scan the canine brain to see how it processes different types of sounds, including voices, barks, and natural noises. In humans, the voice area is activated when we hear others speak, helping us recognize a speaker’s identity and pick up on the emotional content in her voice. If dogs had voice areas, it could mean that these abilities aren’t limited to humans and other primates.So the team trained 11 dogs to lie motionless in a functional magnetic resonance imaging brain scanner, while wearing headphones to deliver the sounds and protect their ears. “They loved doing this,” Andics says, adding that the pooches’ owners were there to reward them with treats and petting. The scanner captured images of the dogs’ brain activity while they listened to nearly 200 dog and human sounds, including whines, cries, playful barks, and laughs. The scientists also scanned the brains of 22 human subjects who listened to the same set of sounds. Both dogs and humans were awake during the scans.The images revealed that dog brains have voice areas and that they process voices in the same way that human brains do, the team reports online today in Current Biology. And because these voice areas are found in similar locations in the brains of both dogs and humans, the scientists suggest that they likely evolved at least 100 million years ago, when humans and dogs last shared a common ancestor, an insectivore. Indeed, some think that brain areas for processing vocal sounds could be discovered in more species.Still, when voice areas were first discovered in humans, they were thought to be special and somehow tied specifically to the evolution of language. “So what are they doing in dog brains?” Andics asks. The answer lies, he thinks, in what the scans also revealed: Striking similarities in how dog and human brains process emotionally laden sounds. Happy sounds, such as an infant’s giggle, made the primary auditory cortex of both species light up more than did unhappy sounds, such as a man’s harsh cough. “It shows that dogs and humans have similar brain mechanisms for processing the social meaning of sound,” Andics says, noting that other research has shown that dogs “respond to the way we say something rather than to what we say.” The similarity in auditory processing, he adds, “helps explain why vocal communication between the two species is so successful.”But there were differences, too. The researchers discovered that in dogs, 48% of their auditory brain regions respond more strongly to environmental sounds, such as a car engine, than to voices. In humans, in contrast, a mere 3% of their sound-sensitive brain regions lit up more for the nonvocal sounds. “It shows how very strongly attuned the human auditory cortex is to vocal sounds,” Andics says. “In dogs, it’s more heterogeneous.”Yet it is the similarity in how dogs and humans process the emotional information in voices that other researchers find most intriguing. “They’ve confirmed what any dog owner knows—that their pooches are sensitive to one’s tone of voice,” says John Marzluff, a wildlife biologist at the University of Washington, Seattle. Even more important, he adds, is that the study “confronts us with the realization that our wonderful brain is in many ways a product of our distant evolutionary past.”For more on man’s best friend, see the Science News team’s latest coverage of doggy science.
Why? That’s the first word on many lips after a cancer diagnosis. “It’s a perfectly reasonable question,” says Bert Vogelstein, a cancer geneticist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, who has spent a lifetime trying to answer it. Thanks to his friendship with a recently minted Ph.D. in applied mathematics, the two now propose a framework arguing that most cancer cases are the result of biological bad luck.In a paper this week in Science, Vogelstein and Cristian Tomasetti, who joined the biostatistics department at Hopkins in 2013, put forth a mathematical formula to explain the genesis of cancer. Here’s how it works: Take the number of cells in an organ, identify what percentage of them are long-lived stem cells, and determine how many times the stem cells divide. With every division, there’s a risk of a cancer-causing mutation in a daughter cell. Thus, Tomasetti and Vogelstein reasoned, the tissues that host the greatest number of stem cell divisions are those most vulnerable to cancer. When Tomasetti crunched the numbers and compared them with actual cancer statistics, he concluded that this theory explained two-thirds of all cancers.“Using the mathematics of evolution, you can really develop an engineerlike understanding of the disease,” says Martin Nowak, who studies mathematics and biology at Harvard University and has worked with Tomasetti and Vogelstein. “It’s a baseline risk of being an animal that has cells that need to divide.”Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)The idea emerged during one of the pair’s weekly brainstorming sessions in Vogelstein’s office. They returned to an age-old question: How much of cancer is driven by environmental factors, and how much by genetics? To solve that, Tomasetti reasoned, “I first need to understand how much is by chance and take that out of the picture.”By “chance” Tomasetti meant the roll of the dice that each cell division represents, leaving aside the influence of deleterious genes or environmental factors such as smoking or exposure to radiation. He was most interested in stem cells because they endure—meaning that a mutation in a stem cell is more likely to cause problems than a mutation in a cell that dies more quickly.Tomasetti searched the literature to find the numbers he needed, such as the size of the stem cell “compartment” in each tissue. Plotting the total number of stem cell divisions over a lifetime against the lifetime risk of cancer in 31 different organs revealed a correlation. As the number of divisions rose, so did risk.Colon cancer, for example, is far more common than cancer of the duodenum, the first stretch of the small intestine. This is true even in those who carry a mutated gene that puts their entire intestine at risk. Tomasetti found that there are about 1012 stem cell divisions in the colon over a lifetime, compared with 1010 in the duodenum. Mice, by contrast, have more stem cell divisions in their small intestine—and more cancers—than in their colon.The line between mutations and cancer isn’t necessarily direct. “It may not just be whether a mutation occurs,” says Bruce Ponder, a longtime cancer researcher at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. “There may be other factors in the tissue that determine whether the mutation is retained” and whether it triggers a malignancy.That said, the theory remains “an extremely attractive idea,” says Hans Clevers, a stem cell and cancer biologist at the Hubrecht Institute in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Still, he points out, the result “hinges entirely on how good the input data are.”Tomasetti was aware that some of the published data may not be correct. In 10,000 runs of his model, he skewed where various points on the graph were plotted. Always, “the result was still significant,” he says, suggesting the big picture holds even if some of the data points do not. In mathematical jargon, the graph showed a correlation of 0.81. (A correlation of 1 means that by knowing the variable on the x-axis—in this case, the lifetime number of stem cell divisions—one can predict the y-axis value 100% of the time.) Squaring that 0.81 gives 0.65—an indicator of how much of the variation in cancer risk in a tissue is explained by variation in stem cell divisions (see graph above).For Vogelstein, one major message is that cancer often cannot be prevented, and more resources should be funneled into catching it in its infancy. “These cancers are going to keep on coming,” he says.Douglas Lowy, a deputy director of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, agrees, but also stresses that a great deal of “cancer is preventable” and efforts to avert the disease must continue.Although the randomness of cancer might be frightening, those in the field see a positive side, too. The new framework stresses that “the average cancer patient … is just unlucky,” Clevers says. “It helps cancer patients to know” that the disease is not their fault.
They call him “Little Foot” but he’s a big deal to human evolution researchers. From this putative human ancestor’s beautifully preserved head (shown above) to his fairly small feet, this australopithecine—a cousin to the famous 3.2-million-year-old “Lucy,” also a candidate for a human ancestor—is the most complete australopithecine skeleton ever found. But since he was discovered in South Africa’s Sterkfontein Caves in the early 1990s, researchers have argued bitterly about how old he is, with estimates ranging from 2.2 million to 4 million years old. Now, researchers using a state-of-the-art dating technique that employs isotopes of the elements aluminum and beryllium conclude that Little Foot died 3.67 million years ago, as they report online today in Nature. If correct, it could mean that Little Foot is an ancestor of the more than 3-million-year-old human line. The team also argues that Little Foot belongs to a new species, which it calls Australopithecus prometheus. But some skeptics are not buying such an early date, arguing that the team might be dating the wrong rocks (the skeleton itself can’t be dated because it is too old for radiocarbon and techniques for dating older fossils rely on dating the rocks and sediments in which they are found), and also that the aluminum-beryllium technique might not be suitable for South Africa’s limestone caves. Researchers also question whether Little Foot represents a new species or is just a spectacularly well-preserved specimen of Australopithecus africanus, a well-known australopithecine that lived in South Africa between 3 million and 2 million years ago and was probably an evolutionary sideline and not a human ancestor. Most are withholding judgment until a detailed anatomical analysis of the skeleton is published, which won’t appear any earlier than next year.
IR8 was so much better than traditional rice varieties that its use spread rapidly throughout Asia and output soared. Famine was averted. Related Items
On Tuesday, Donald Trump Jr began his week-long visit to India from New Delhi, with the stated aim of promoting the family’s luxury properties and attracting buyers for an upcoming Trump Organisation project in Gurugram.But as the American press was quick to point out, not everything about the visit of the US president’s son was strictly to do with business.Read it at Scroll Related Items
Indonesia leaves most Indians unscathed. Nobody wants to be an Indonesian, not even the Sindhis. The music slams into my chest as soon as I enter the darkened room. The girls are on a small stage belting out the words “Rabba, Rabba” to a psychedelic beat, doing slow half circles in that Punjabi way – one leg bent, a palm outstretched. They are in jeans, sequin tops and pointy-toed boots. Their hair, Indian black, falls straight to their shoulders.I forget to order a beer and instead stand transfixed, taking in three twenty-somethings from Jalandhar in a hotel, The Jakarta Marriott, best known for a suicide bombing last year. Most of those here, swaying to the music or sipping tall, frothy green drinks, are Indonesian; except for a group of thick-waisted Indian men who huddle in a corner of the dance floor.The girls finish their song and an Indonesian man in leather pants shakes his waist-length hair and grabs a mike.“The most beautiful girls in the world are Indian. Miss World, Miss Universe is always from India,” he shouts. A black man in a red track suit nods in agreement. The girls file off stage, another band takes over, and I’m beamed back to reality, like a character out of Star Trek.I first encountered Girlz, to use the band’s name, the night before, at the Indian embassy’s Republic Day reception. There they were, in their painted-on jeans and sequins, alternating between bhangra and Western pop and creating a stir in the Indian community, which had come expecting tandoori chicken and dal makhni, perhaps even a classical dance performance, but certainly not a robotic enactment of a Kylie Minogue video by a band flown in from Bombay.My primary interest was in the food. But one thing led to another and, as the giant room emptied of all but a few stragglers, I found myself seated at a large round table with, among others, Deepa, Disha and Sonali. That’s when I discovered that they’re from Jalandhar…army kids…grew up all over the place… now based in Bombay…would never wear such clothes in Punjab.I found myself holding on to every word, soaking in their accents – public school Punjabi – reacquainting myself with how a single dismissive hand gesture can say “oh him, we used to think he was such a big star, but now he’s just a regular guy to us.”I haven’t lived in India since I last worked there as a journalist more than three years ago. My contacts with Indians here in Indonesia are sporadic, confined to embassy functions on Republic Day and Independence Day, and to the occasional invitation to dinner by some kind older person. So my encounter with the girls hits me with the force of nostalgia, not what you might feel when you run into an old friend after years but, rather, an odd blend of newness and familiarity, like discovering a stranger in a family album.It’s this feeling that I’m here to explore at the Marriott. I head to the corner where the Girlz sit. They remember me from the previous night and soon I strike up a conversation with Deepa, at 27 the oldest of the three, and so, at least in my mind, the band leader.We employ the special code that Indians are genetically programmed to use with each other, allowing a swift and unforgiving determination of social worth that both makes subsequent conversation possible, and establishes its tone and tenor. In less than the time it takes to finish a beer, I learn about a brother who is a doctor in Arkansas, a sister-in-law who works on Wall Street, a great-grandfather who went to Princeton, a grandfather who fought a famous case at the Supreme Court, a father in the army and a Welsh woman somewhere in the family tree.Deepa, of course, finds out about a diplomat father, a brother at Oxford, a master’s degree from Princeton and an ethnic mix that’s half Maharashtrian and half Tamil. (Though my involuntary responses to dal makhni and that Rabba Rabba song prove that I’m secretly Punjabi too.)After a while, Deepa whips out a Nokia camera phone and proceeds to show me pictures. There she is in Bombay with Mick Jagger – “he was really cool to hang out with, a really decent person” – playfully cradling a video camera.Here she is with the lead singer of the Pakistani band Junoon, I forget his name. Here’s Deepa at the Eiffel Tower. She tells me about performing in Dubai, Muscat and Sri Lanka, about how someone called them India’s Spice Girls – there used to be five of them – and how she hated it because “it’s so wannabe.”My eyes stray to the knot of Indian men, off the dance floor, but still in a huddle, and my mind wanders to how being an Indian in Indonesia is so much more predictable than being one in America. You don’t feel this country constantly pressing down on you on all sides so you don’t have to make the same effort to maintain your sense of self.In America, you have Indians trying desperately to be American, saying ant when they mean aunt and ruthlessly excising “lift” (for elevator), “trousers” and “air hostess” from their vocabularies. Then you have Indians fighting viciously to remain Indian, hrefusing to say ant when they mean aunt, and devoting their lives to studying 19th century Bengali lesbians or the novels of Shobha De. Then there are the ABCDs, some of whom want to say aunt and wear saris to work – or, better still, complain about how they can’t – and boast about how their fathers read the Times of India. In short, it’s all so complicated.Indonesia leaves most Indians unscathed. Nobody wants to be Indonesian. Even the Sindhis, some of whom have been here for generations, do not confuse business with belonging.You can easily spend 20 years here playing bridge or golf once a week with fellow Indians, having the same friends over for stuffed bhindi and mutton curry, and generally getting on with a life transplanted from Delhi’s Defence Colony or Greater Kailash; except that the servants are better trained and don’t scratch their crotches in front of guests.I turn back to Deepa with her coke-colored drink, her Marlboro Lights and her camera phone with the picture of Mick Jagger.Despite her familiarity, I sense a gulf, a slippage between her India and mine. Deepa is old enough to belong to an India I recognize, young enough to have one leg in an India that I don’t. It saddens me to think that things are changing so fast that before long I’ll feel like a stranger in my own land. Or perhaps that has already happened, leaving me only with a craving for mutton curry and that Rabba Rabba song in my head. Related Items
Mixed Lentil BiryaniIngredients 1/2 lbs. basmati rice1/2 lbs. mixed lentils of your choice1 big onion finely sliced1 teaspoon each of ginger and garlic paste1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder.1/2 oz. mixed cloves, cardamoms and bay leaves4 teaspoons unsalted butterFor Decoration 1 medium tomato sliced finely 4 thick green chilies slitted 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves 1 oz. roasted cashew nuts 1 teaspoon cumin seeds2 tablespoons unsalted butterSoak the rice and lentils separately for a few hours. Heat 4 teaspoons unsalted butter, add whole spices, onion ginger and garlic paste and fry until soft. Add lentils, salt and spices and fry until dry. Add rice along with enough hot water to stand 1-inch above the level of the rice. Bring water to a boil. Reduce heat and cook until rice is tender and dry. Remove from fire. Heat 2 tablespoons unsalted butter separately and remove from fire. Add cumin seeds and fry till they crackle. Mix in tomato, coriander and chilies and cook until soft. Pour over rice along with the cashew nuts and cook until soft.DhoklaIngredients1/2 lbs. par-boiled rice1/4 lbs. toor gram2 oz. each of Bengal gram and split skinless black gram2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves2 oz. sour yogurt A pinch of asafetida1/4 teaspoon soda bicarbonate1/4 teaspoon turmeric powderSalt and chili powder to tasteFor Decoration4 oz. grated coconut1oz. chopped roasted cashew nuts2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves1 teaspoon mustard seeds1 tablespoon oilSoak rice and lentils separately for a few hours. Grind to a smooth paste in a blender. Mix in soda bicarbonate, salt and yogurt. Set aside for 4 to 5 hours. Add turmeric powder and oil. Place in a greased dish. Steam in a steamer for 15 to 20 minutes or when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cut into neat cubes. Put in a serving plate. Heat 1 tablespoon oil and add mustard seeds. When they crackle pour over dhokla. Decorate with the remaining ingredients and serve with chutney or ketchup of your choice.DosaIngredients 1/2 lbs. par boiled rice1/4 lbs. mixed dals like split green gram, split black skinless gram, split Bengal gram1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda1/4 lbs. grated cheeseTomato ketchup as requiredSalt to tasteSoak dals and rice overnight; drain out the water and grind to a thick paste. Put into a bowl. Mix in soda bicarbonate and salt, add enough water to form a thick batter. Cover bowl and set in a warm place for a few hours so batter rises. Grease non-stick pan lightly with oil. Take the batter in a round ladle and spread into a thin round shape. Heat on medium heat covered for two minutes. Uncover put little oil over the edges and turn over. Cook until both sides are crisp and golden. Spread ketchup on the dosa and sprinkle with grated cheese accompanied with coconut chutney.Vegetable VadasIngredients 1/2 lbs. mixed lentils like split black skinless gram, green gram and Bengal gram1/4 lbs. mixed vegetables like cabbage and carrots finely grated1 teaspoon cumin seeds1 teaspoon ginger and garlic paste2 tblsps, chopped coriander leaves2 dry red chilies, finely slicedSalt to taste Soak lentils for a couple of hours in water. Drain out water and grind to a smooth thick paste; mix in the remaining ingredients. Take 2 tablespoons of the paste and put on a greased plastic sheet. Form into a round shape. Make a hole in the center with your finger then slowly slip the vada into smoking hot oil. Fry till crisp and golden. Serve with chutney of your choice.Khichdi Ingredients 1/2 lbs. rice1/4 lbs. green gram50 grams roasted cashew nuts 1 teaspoon cumin seeds1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder1 tablespoon black pepper corns 4 tablespoons clarified butter1/4 liter milkSoak dal and rice for a couple of hours separately. Heat the clarified butter, add the drained out dal and fry until dry, add the rice, turmeric powder and salt, mix well. Add milk along with enough water to stand 1-inch above the level of the rice. Cook over a slow fire until rice is tender and dry. Place on a plate. Heat the remaining clarified butter and add cumin seeds and pepper corns. When the seeds stop crackling remove and pour over the khichdi. Decorate with cashew nuts and serve hot.VadaIngredients 1/2 lbs. split black skinless gram2 green chilies, minced2 tablespoons sliced coconutHandful of sliced coriander leaves1 teaspoon minced ginger1/4 teaspoon cumin seedsSalt to tasteSoak dal in water for about 6 hours. Drain and grind to a paste. Mix in remaining ingredients. Form into small vadas or round pattice on a clean cloth. Make a hole in the center of each vada or pattice and deep fry to a golden brown color. Serve with sambar and dosa chutney.SambarIngredients 1/2 lbs. split pigeon pea1/2 lbs. tomatoes1 teaspoon turmeric powder1oz. finely sliced coriander leaves2 oz. coconut paste1 teaspoon each of cumin, mustard and sesame seeds1/4 oz. curry leavesA big pinch of asafetida 4 tablespoons oil1 teaspoon jaggery or molasses Salt and chili powder to taste.Roast and grind together 1 teaspoon each of coriander and cumin seeds1/4 teaspoon each of mustard and fenugreek seeds1/2 teaspoon peppercorns3 red chiliesCook dal with chopped tomatoes, turmeric powder and salt until soft. Stir well. Mix in the ground spices and coconut. Heat 4 tablespoons oil and fry asafetida, curry leaves, cumin, mustard and sesame seeds. When the seeds stop popping, pour into the sambar. Garnish with coriander leaves before serving. You can also add a teaspoon of jaggery or molasses if you prefer a sweet and sour taste.Plain IdliIngredients 1 lbs. parboiled rice1/4 lbs. split black skinless gram Pinch of soda bicarbonateSalt to tasteWash and soak the rice for 1 hour. Strain out the water and grind coarsely. Soak dal for few hours and grind till it is light and frothy. Mix the rice with the dal and a little water to make it into a thick batter; add salt and a pinch of soda bicarbonate. cover and set aside for a few hours in a warm place until the batter becomes spongy. Fill the greased idli moulds half full with batter in the idli stand and steam for 10 minutes in the steamer or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve piping hot with sambar and dosa chutney. Vegetable IdliIngredients1/2 lbs .boiled vegetables like carrots, French beans, green peas and potatoes1/2 lbs. par boiled riceJuice of 1/2 coconut 2 tablespoons Each of split black skinless gram and Bengal gram2 tablespoons green chilies 1 oz. coriander leaves inch piece of ginger1 teaspoon cumin seeds Salt to tasteSoak the rice and dals in coconut milk for 3 hours. Grind to a paste blender along with remaining ingredients with the exception of the vegetables. Mix in the minced vegetables and a sufficient amount of thin coconut milk to make a thick batter. Set aside for 1 hour. Grease the idli moulds lightly and pour a spoonful of the batter in the mould. Place this idli stand in the steamer and steam for 10 minutes or till a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve with piping hot sambar and coconut chutney.ChutneysCoconut ChutneyIngredients 1/2 lbs. fresh grated coconut2 ozs. coriander leaves2 ozs. mint leaves1 big tomato2 green chilies1 teaspoon grated ginger and garlic1 tablespoon tamarind pasteSalt to tasteFor garnishing1 teaspoon mustard seeds2 dry red chilies brokenGrind coconut to a paste with all the above ingredients. Heat 1 teaspoon oil and add mustard seeds and chilies and fry until they crackle. Pour over chutney.Dosa ChutneyIngredients1/4 lbs. grated coconut 4 green chilies 1 teaspoon grated ginger5 teaspoons Bengal gram5 curry leaves3 tablespoons coconut water1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds3 to 4 whole red chilies brokenSalt to tasteFry Bengal gram and grind with all ingredients with the exception of mustard and red chilies into a paste. Heat 1 tablespoon oil and fry the mustard seeds and chilies. Pour over chutney and serve.Yogurt ChutneyIngredients1/4 lbs .coconut2 oz. black gram2 oz. coriander leaves4 green chilies 1 tablespoon grated ginger1 teaspoon. cumin seeds1/4 lbs. yogurt1 tablespoon oilHandful of curry leaves Salt to suit the taste Heat 1tblsp oil and fry black gram, mustard seeds and curry leaves to a golden brown color. Grind the black gram along with all the above ingredients to a paste and mix into the curds.Make your own Sambar MasalaIngredients4 oz. whole coriander seeds1 tablespoon Cumin seeds1 teaspoon mustard seeds1 tablespoon fenugreek seeds1oz. red dry chilies1/2 teaspoon asafetida1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder Dry roast all the whole spices till they emit a good aroma. Mix together the remaining ingredients Powder and bottle. Related Items
It may be argued, scientifically, that matter originated first and the interactions of networked matter created everything else, including life, mind and consciousness. But, a deeper analysis suggests, as the physicist Max Planck believed, that consciousness is elemental and everything else is secondary. Is the mind matrix of all matter?Our scientific quest, based on reductionism, tempts us into believing that fundamental particles are really fundamental. They create our universe at a basic level, as they do our body and brain. But, if the brain is just a collection of particles that constitute cells, it wouldn’t be much different than a rock or a piece of wood.The cells that make up the brain interact within a complex network that communicates among various segments of the brain. This exchange of information gives rise to the non-physical attributes, such as mind, consciousness, and, as some believe, a soul within the human body. In the absence of such information trading, even when the brain is physically present, the meaning of existence is lost.The scientific argument is appealing as it seems lucid and coherent, and is held by many modern researchers. It’s simple and plain — matter (elementary particles, atoms and cells in that hierarchical order) came first, followed by life and consciousness. Accordingly, consciousness is an emergent property of the interactions of fundamental particles. The tangible creates the intangible. The tangible matter generates the intangible and unbounded entity like the mind, which is considered the ultimate source of our inner voice.While everyone agrees that consciousness defines existence and reality, the mechanism that generates this phenomenon is controversial and mostly unknown. In the classical approach, a trigger in the form of an electrical pulse in the brain caused by an external stimulus originates at one location and that information propagates to various cells, somewhat like a domino effect, yet it remains local in nature. The current neurophysiologic understanding of consciousness asserts that it is a manifestation of the emergent firing of neurons — the nerve cells in the brain.Thus, if a sufficiently complex system can generate consciousness, why can’t machines mimic the same? Computers that execute algorithms, at some point, must be able to generate consciousness, because it is the result of complex networks performing information exchange among different components.Our machines, such as computers, can store, process and analyze information. And, some advances algorithms, such as artificial intelligence, can imitate some other features, like muscle movement, pattern recognition or even the sense of taste, smell, etc. What on earth stops them creating other attributes of consciousness and self-awareness? What about emotions and feelings?Is the brain an interface that bridges a super consciousness with human activities or a pure source of consciousness?It is generally agreed that all the laws of physics are computable. In other words, a complex machine can simulate the underpinnings of brain at some point. If the laws of nature are computable, the workings of brain and consciousness also must be computable. But, researchers have no clue about creating such rules, nor are they confident that our current algorithms are capable of doing that. That’s where the findings of Oxford physicist Roger Penrose become revolutionary.Penrose argued, to the dismay of many researchers, that our current science is incapable of creating artificial consciousness. Even if we can amass unimaginable computing powers, consciousness will still remain a fantasy. There is some missing link. What could be that unknown piece?Penrose sought a deep and initially somewhat vague connection between consciousness and quantum physics. His ground-breaking work came to the public domain through his popular book The Emperor’s New Mind. He suggested that brain cells seem to execute quantum mechanical antics rather than the classical tricks to generate consciousness. Precisely, consciousness is created by some mysterious quantum mechanical phenomenon that takes place in brain cells. And, unless we master that technique, consciousness will remain a mystery.Working along with Stuart Hameroff of Arizona University, Penrose identified the cellular components that perform quantum mechanical mishmash or the nature’s quantum computers. It turned out to be long and thin hollow tubes of protein about ten-millionth of an inch in diameter that network the cellular structure known as microtubule.Identifying the physical root of consciousness isn’t enough to know the mechanism by which these tubes perform quantum mechanical computations. Quantum theory describes the underpinnings of matter and energy at the most fundamental level. An object in a quantum state is a “wave of possibilities” and exists in coherent superposition of many possible states. When the brain attempts to solve a problem, billions of different choices exist simultaneously as available outcomes. However, the numerous wave functions collapse and return a single choice from the possible cellular traffic, the one that becomes the conscious thought.Also, in quantum behavior non-locality is key. This essentially means the activity at one place affects the activity at another place of the brain without going through a domino effect needed by classical behavior. The information is entangled everywhere rather than being transported from one place to the other. Perhaps, quantum information is hardwired to the entire universe. It’s always been there in the universe waiting to be shared. Our brains are connected to the entire universe — a daring thought, some believe, that might one day explain paranormal effects such as telepathy or remote viewing.The scientific approaches to unravel the workings of brain and consciousness have a long way to go even if the quantum mechanical behavior proposed by Penrose is proved right. Recent researches indicate that our sense of smell, the photosynthesis and even the navigation of birds all depend on strange quantum effects.The dubious feature of mind-matter origin is passionately debated in scientific circles and will continue for a long time. But, the concept of consciousness is weaved into the fabric of Hindu philosophy. In Hindu thought, consciousness has independent existence and is part of the ultimate reality not an emergent phenomena as conceived by science. Our individual minds borrow consciousness from the omnipresent Brahman, which describes the realty as sat (truth or eternal), cit (pure consciousness) and ananda (ideal bliss). The existence is a universal reality that transcends the manifested universe.The fundamental particles, considered to be the building blocks, are inseparable from the energy field that pervades the universe. Their existence may manifest as energy or matter, but the state of existence is eternal in nature. The bewildering activity our brain performs to create consciousness is neither local nor totally new. Our brain is entangled with the entire universe and pre-existing consciousness. It’s the intangible that creates the tangible. We do not have evidence, as of now, to establish such a principle, but it’s something researchers can’t ignore as they nail down the science of consciousness.Sri Aurobindo, the great Indian philosopher and poet, introduced the evolution idea into vedantic thought through an unfamiliar and unexplored level of consciousness: “Evolution is not finished; reason is not the last word nor the reasoning animal the supreme figure of Nature. As man emerged out of the animal, so out of man the superman emerges.” He called it the Supermind. Our individual minds and bodies are parts of this principle and it is present in the Satchidananda. The Supermind generates mind followed by life and matter. Rejecting the idea of renunciation of the material world, proposed by some school of thoughts, he suggested it is possible to transcend and transform human nature and evolve spiritually not just materialistically.Aurobindo said: “Be conscious first of thyself within, then think and act. All living thought is a world in preparation; all real act is a thought manifested. The material world exists because an Idea began to play in divine self-consciousness.” Related Items